Single-particle tracking with quantum dots (QDs) constitutes a powerful tool to track the nanoscopic dynamics of individual cell membrane components unveiling their membrane diffusion characteristics. Here, the nano-resolved population dynamics of QDs is exploited to reconstruct the topography and structural changes of the cell membrane surface with high temporal and spatial resolution. For this proof-of-concept study, bright, small, and stable biofunctional QD nanoconstructs are utilized recognizing the endogenous neuronal cannabinoid receptor 1, a highly expressed and fast-diffusing membrane protein, together with a commercial point-localization microscope. Rapid QD diffusion on the axonal plasma membrane of cultured hippocampal neurons allows precise reconstruction of the membrane surface in less than 1 min with a spatial resolution of tens of nanometers. Access of the QD nanoconstructs to the synaptic cleft enables rapid 3D topological reconstruction of the entire presynaptic component. Successful reconstruction of membrane nano-topology and deformation at the second time-scale is also demonstrated for HEK293 cell filopodia and axons. Named “nanoPaint,” this super-resolution imaging technique amenable to any endogenous transmembrane target represents a versatile platform to rapidly and accurately reconstruct the cell membrane nano-topography, thereby enabling the study of the rapid dynamic phenomena involved in neuronal membrane plasticity.
© 2019 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.